If you have been diagnosed with cancer and will have, are having, or have had cancer therapy, your Serenity Dental dentist will be a partner in reducing the risk of oral health complications and treating them if they occur.
If you can see us prior to receiving cancer treatment, we can help prevent oral health complications and establish a base line for your oral health. No matter what stage you are in for your diagnosis and treatment, talk to Dr. Nilash Patel or Dr. Nitash Patel about your medical history in detail. We will educate you about the oral health changes you may expect during your cancer therapy and special home care for your mouth, as well as foods and beverages to avoid.
Our dentists will carefully monitor your oral health during and after cancer therapy to prevent, identify, and treat complications as soon as possible. With your permission, they will coordinate dental treatment and prescribed medications with your oncologist, with your best health outcomes always in mind.
Here are some of the common oral health side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes that is painful and makes it uncomfortable to eat, swallow, and speak.
- Infection due to viruses, bacteria, or fungus, resulting from dry mouth (xerostomia), and/or damage to the mucosa from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- Dry mouth (xerostomia/salivary gland dysfunction) due to thickened, reduced, or absent salivary flow, making it uncomfortable and difficult to speak, chew, and swallow.
- Changes in taste perception of foods, ranging from unpleasant to tasteless.
Other complications of chemotherapy may include oral bleeding from decreased platelets and tooth pain related to certain drugs. With radiation therapy, there is increased risk for dental decay due to dry mouth, loss of elasticity of the chewing muscles, restricting the ability to open the mouth, and decreased ability to heal in traumatized blood and bone tissues. In many cases, dry mouth continues for years.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has reported that oral complications occur in almost all patients receiving radiation for head and neck malignancies, in approximately 80 percent of stem cell transplant recipients, and in nearly 40 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy often impairs the function of bone marrow, suppressing the formation of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Some cancer treatments have toxic effects on the oral tissues.